After Many Seasons of Suffering, Light Appears

Some days the stars align, and you know, not just hope, that God is in control.  That happened to my family today.  My sister, my mom and I have had hundreds of medical appointments over the last four years for treating breast cancer in all three of us. We have separately and together driven thousands of miles to commute to our cancer center in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  But on October 20, 2015, it culminated in six medical appointments within a few minutes of each other at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center.  You couldn’t have planned it that way if you tried.  Some of the appointments had been made a year previously long before my sister’s diagnosis in March, 2015.

At 11 am, my sister, Diann, was receiving her sixteenth and final chemotherapy for Stage 3 breast cancer in the chemo infusion area after 5 grueling months, my mom was in an exam room for her 6 month check-up for Stage 1 Breast Cancer with Megan, our Physician’s Assistant, and I sat in another exam room with my (our) trusted Oncologist, Dr. Daniel Hayes for my semi-annual checkup which included a yearly mammogram.

The circumstances that led up to all of that happening at precisely 11 am at a busy cancer center were mind boggling.  None of it was planned as my sister had her last chemo postponed one week because she had the flu on an earlier infusion date.  My mammogram had been scheduled a year out and ended up being several weeks later than it should have been.  Mom’s checkup was changed and her appointment had been made 6 months earlier.  None of us realized that all of this was happening on one day and time until a few days prior to the appointments.

As we were leaving Diann’s house at 7:00 am in the pitch dark, Diann’s neighbor was out walking her dog with her sister who was visiting from out-of-town.  Her neighbor, also a cancer survivor, told Diann her entire church had been praying for her.  Then her neighbor introduced her sister to Diann.  Her sister’s name was “Joy.”

desertpictureAfter arriving at the cancer center, Diann and mom went to blood draw while I went to Mammography.  The blood draw area at the cancer center was packed. The tech you receive to draw your blood is randomly chosen out of many, many techs on duty.   Diann’s name was called.  The woman who would draw her blood on her last chemo infusion day was also named “Joy.”

Diann then went on to chemo, mom went to her appointment, and simultaneously in my exam room, Dr. Hayes had just reviewed my “CLEAR MAMMOGRAM” results from my remaining breast which had been administered earlier that morning.   Dr. Hayes questioned me, “Can you believe it has been four years since your diagnosis?”  I laughed and said, “I never thought I would be here four years later.”  Dr. Hayes sort of shrugged his shoulders, his body language saying he hadn’t been too sure either!   We have developed a doctor/patient rapport over the years and he jokingly said, “I should send you a fruit basket or something because of all the business you’ve brought us.”  I bantered back, “Absolutely you should.  I used to have a day away coming to Ann Arbor for medical appointments, now I have to bring the whole family with me!”

After test results, more appointment scheduling, reviews of Diann’s radiation schedule, a flu shot, the chemo drugs arriving an hour earlier than usual, and a myriad of future tests and evaluations for genetic testing, Diann, mom and I met up again in the blood draw area to walk together to the car.

While exiting the parking garage and handing over 50 cents to a new garage attendant,  I casually asked him, “Where should we go to lunch?  We have to celebrate my sister’s last chemo.”   Ann Arbor is known to be one of the restaurant capitals of the world, so I was expecting him to say somewhere close to the hospital.  Instead, the young man said that his favorite restaurant was 20 miles south.  I responded that we were headed south, so tell me the name of the restaurant.   He responded “Roy’s.”

In the car there was an immediate gasp, a knowing smile, and I saw tears fill Diann’s eyes.  You see, Roy, is the name of our beloved father/husband who died 16 years ago from pancreatic cancer.  My dad wanted us to know he, too, was in on the celebratory events of the day!

What a day of coincidences and good news.  Plus, two Joys and a Roy brought us much hope and encouragement!


speaking of seasons, check out the new hats arriving

for fall winter at

PicMonkey Collage


  1. Great story Denise! You know your Dad is with all of you. So glad that Diann is finally done with the chemo. Also, a fruit basket???? How about a new car!!

  2. Love this story. I had many moments while going through treatment that I wasn’t alone and had many little “miracles” occur. Blessings to you and your family.

  3. Denise

    What a glorious post! A day of miracles and I hope more to come. I just completed radiation, still hearing a guarded prognosis, and still in “hope” that God is with me and mine.

    Thank you for the positive contribution you have added, unknowingly, to my journey.

    Elaine Marshall

    • Elaine, thank you so much for your kind words! Wishing you well as you continue
      on the path! The hard work begins after treatment. And remember, a guarded prognosis
      is good as it makes you fight that much harder! Sending my best wishes to you!!

  4. Thank you, Denise! What a Spirited story! My brother, Phil, and sister, Marla, didn’t survive cancer. I did. My date of surgery was 11-7-77 (note the 7s). Phil and Marla are blessed by God Himself in full view. They are able to pray for the rest of us on earth. My role as a survivor is clear. I, too, am blessed as an example that God heals in His time. My wonderful duty is to assure others on earth that God loves us. My siblings have a special assignment up close — pray in plain sight of God that our suffering is not for naught and that the real healing is Heaven itself. One more thing: Our daughter had a breast biopsy recently. It was negative.

    • Dave, so nice to hear from you. Always great to hear your wise words!
      You have brought much hope to many through the years! I know you will
      continue to do so! So glad to hear your daughter’s biopsy was negative!
      Sending my best wishes, Denise

  5. Wonderful story about the many positive coincidences!! So glad for you all and Thanks always for the inspiration Denise!!
    3 year Survivor – another 6 month appointment the day before you –on Oct 19th -clear results!!!!!!!!!!!!! LeAnn from MN

    • LeAnn – CONGRATULATIONS — glad we are on the same timeframe and can celebrate the CLEAR results.
      Certainly makes one feel better!! Thanks for your kind words, LeAnn. Sending my best, Denise

  6. Denise, I called Diann on 10/20/15 in the early evening to see how she did on her last treatment! Diann shared this story with me and it brought “JOYful” tears to my eyes! As does your blog entry!!! I do not believe for a nanosecond that any of this was coincidental! What an AMAZING love story from BOTH your Earthly & Heavenly Fathers!!! Your Dad, Roy, was an amazingly man who loved ALL of his “girls” and this does not surprise me that he wanted his presence known~especially on this day! Our Heavenly Father continues to amaze me with His love for you all~~as He carries you all through footprints in the sand!! I pray for continued healing for all 3 of you. I also pray you all continue to feel the presence of BOTH OF YOU FATHERS!! Love you all!!

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